Center for National and International Studies
“Those who receive rewards (from the government) are either indifferent to oppression, or praise the oppressor, in other words, in both cases, they participate in the consolidation of oppression and the continuous process of vilifying the innocent…”
(Lack of ) Human Rights and Freedoms
Orkhan Zeynalov, employed by a food delivery company, shared that despite a statement from the Ministry of Internal Affairs indicating no ongoing investigation or intent to apprehend him, he has observed surveillance by plainclothes police officers. Zeynalov recounted an incident: “Today, both my family and I departed from home to visit City Hospital No. 5 for a narcological assessment. Upon parking our car and preparing to disembark, an individual paced around our vehicle while holding a phone to their ear. This person altered the phone’s orientation and proceeded to capture photographs of our car.” He conveyed that his family holds him responsible for subjecting them to such unwarranted fear. Furthermore, Zeynalov disclosed that an old debt with a bank, dormant for a decade, was suddenly revived, with a threat of arrest unless he settles it. In light of his family’s safety and well-being, Zeynalov opted to terminate his involvement with the Workers’ Desk Trade Union. He stated, “To evade persecution and to ensure the security of my family and my own life, I have resolved to discontinue my engagements with fellow movement members.”
A video recording of a detainee, reportedly engaged in a hunger strike with his lips sewn together, has circulated widely across social media platforms. In these video clips, the individual expresses that he has chosen to abstain from sustenance as a form of protest against the perceived tyranny of Azer Seyidov, the head of the institution where he is held. To carry out this act, he has intentionally refrained from consuming both food and water while sealing his mouth shut. The recording, made public on the third day of his hunger strike, captures him sharing his reasons: “I used to work as a carpenter in the prison workshop, but I was denied my wages. My children are going without food, and my family struggles to pay rent. Azer Seyidov has inflicted injustices upon me. I pursued legal avenues for four months, but to no avail. Ultimately, I found myself compelled to resort to this hunger strike, sewing my mouth shut. For three days, I have abstained from both eating and drinking…” Meydan TV has clarified the identity of the individual who took this drastic action as Nahid Gadir oglu Eyvazov. He has reached out for assistance to President Ilham Aliyev, Mirsaleh Seyidov, the Head of the Penitentiary Service, and Ombudsman Sabina Aliyeva. In his plea, Nahid Eyvazov communicated that the pangs of hunger and thirst have left him utterly depleted, and stitching his mouth closed has subjected him to unbearable agony. The Penitentiary Service has not issued any remarks regarding the detainee’s hunger strike involving the sewing of his mouth.
The UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner tweeted in support of jailed Party leader Gubad Ibadoghlu calling for his release. “We are deeply concerned at reports that imprisoned opposition figure and scholar Gubad Ibadoghlu is seriously ill. We call on the government to release him and ensure he has adequate and appropriate medical treatment and care.” Moreover,
Ibadoghlu’s brother Ghalib Togrul shared on Facebook that his brother was denied to receive necessary medication. “Yesterday, I learned that some of the products we sent to Gubad were accepted, but not delivered to my brother. I understand your fear of books, you are afraid of science, books, scientists as you are afraid of dark light. So, why don’t you give buckwheat (buckwheat)? You know that Mr. Gubad has diabetes and high blood pressure and must be given only dietetic food. Why are you confiscating the “Domestos” we sent to clean the sanitary unit you turned into an unsanitary place? Why do you take the medicine under the pretext that “first the doctor should look at it”? I am sure that you have a thousand languages and a thousand excuses to answer these questions. Better than that, have a face, you will need it when the time comes.”
Ahead of his 75th birthday, celebrated actor Rasim Balayev was bestowed an honorary title by the president Aliyev. Nevertheless, Balayev faced criticism for his accolades towards Aliyev and for not representing the public’s concerns through his voice.
Director of Baku Research Institute Altay Goyushov said that it is about moral conviction to protest against the violation of human rights. “The essence of the matter is that the slandering and arrest of innocent people should worry any conscience person. In other words, if you object to someone being slandered innocently, or to any oppression in general, you are not doing it for someone else, you are doing it for your own conscience. Your conscience tells you that this is a bad thing, and ignoring it is dishonest. And if you are not affected by oppression, that is, if you are indifferent to it, then this is already a problem of your conscience. Let me repeat again when you object to vilification, you are not doing it for anyone, you are doing it for yourself. Both your conscience tells you that slandering the innocent is a bad thing, indifference to it is dishonesty, and you also know that tomorrow you may be the innocent one whom the oppressor slanders. What’s worse is that you are not only indifferent, you don’t care, on the contrary, you are either directly or indirectly participating in the strengthening of that evil system. It is the same system that imprisons one on false charges and rewards another. It is clear as day that if he imprisons those who do not come to terms with oppression, he mostly rewards those who praise the oppressor, and rarely those who are indifferent to oppression. That is, those who receive rewards are either indifferent to oppression, or praise the oppressor, in other words, in both cases, they participate in the consolidation of oppression and the continuous process of vilifying the innocent.”
Member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Fuad Gahramanli shared a similar opinion saying that it is a moral obligation, especially for public figures to stand with the general public not the regime. “Today, some defend Rasim Balayev and others like him on social networks. The advocacy of such people is groundless and harmful because even an ordinary citizen in the country today has a moral obligation to protest against the lawlessness, injustice, and injustice that oppresses society. It is a moral obligation to protest injustice and injustice, and those who advocate and justify flattery are, in fact, going against this obligation. Nowhere in the world does society knock on someone’s door and offer them something in return for moral obligation, and it is not necessary for a person to listen to the voice of his conscience and fulfill his social obligations. This is a matter of conscience and morality. Otherwise, then we politicians should say with the same logic that “We have been arrested many times for this nation, and no one has given us anything, why should we put ourselves in danger for this nation?” That is why it is not necessary to forget that acting honestly, and following social and moral obligations is not a business relationship so that you act in exchange for what you receive.”
According to a report from Azadliq newspaper, statistics for the first half of this year reveal that among the South Caucasus countries, Azerbaijan leads in export revenue with a staggering $17.9 billion. In contrast, Armenia’s corresponding figure stands at $3.2 billion, while Georgia’s is $3.1 billion. Consequently, Azerbaijan’s export earnings surpass those of Armenia and Georgia by a factor of approximately 6. This discrepancy holds true not only in absolute terms but also when considering export earnings per capita. This substantial advantage in export revenue is primarily attributed to Azerbaijan’s abundant fossil resources. The figures disclosed by the State Customs Committee unequivocally indicate that during the first half of 2023, a significant portion of Azerbaijan’s export income, precisely 90.1%, or $16.1 billion, stems from the trade of oil and gas. Essentially, this implies that if the revenue from oil and gas transactions is excluded, Azerbaijan’s exports would fall short of those achieved by Armenia and Georgia. Despite Azerbaijan’s position as the leading earner in foreign trade, the country lags behind its regional counterparts concerning average monthly wages. Regrettably, Azerbaijan finds itself at the bottom of the regional list with an average monthly salary of 922 manats. Comparatively, Georgia’s average monthly wage stands at 1,114 manats, while Armenia’s hovers around 1,177 manats.
As per official statistics, from January to July 2023, an individual Azerbaijani allocated an average of 437.9 manats per month for expenditures within the retail trade network. This figure represents an increment of 58.1 manats, equivalent to a 15.3 percent rise, in comparison to the corresponding period in 2022. Specifically, within the domain of retail trade, 246.9 manats out of the total 437.9 manats were directed towards food products, while 191 manats were allotted for non-food items. This effectively translates to a swift acceleration in prices within Azerbaijan, resulting in a situation where, although the quantity of consumed products remained relatively constant compared to the previous year, prices surged by 15.3 percent. In essence, individuals now expend 15.3 percent more funds on the same assortment of food items, relative to the identical timeframe in the preceding year. Commenting on the given statistics Natig Jafarli from ReAl said that the real numbers prove that the situation is in fact, worse. His Facebook post: “These are still official figures, if we take a normal, scientific approach, if we take 30 products of daily demand, the price increase would be around 40-45%. Another issue is that in developed countries if a person spends more than 15-20% of his income on food, he is considered poor. In our country, according to official data, people spend more than half of what they earn on food – so we are a poor country, that is, we are poor despite so many resources because the system of governance is wrong. For 1.5 years, we have been calling on the government to reduce taxes and duties on food and medicine, to lower prices, but they are not listening, and they don’t care, because they do not depend on us, the citizens, and the voters…”
August 17, 2023